“A Reckoning” by Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur

The following is a poem by Richard Wilbur that I love because it so completely describes my own thinking at this time in my life.  Since I got into my senior years, I have night dreams remembering something stupid and/or gross that I said or did during my life.  This is one of the worst aspects of getting old that I’ve experienced.  I will remember something that happened 50+ years ago that I never even thought of again after it happened.  This is especially amazing since I have trouble remembering much more frequent things and especially names of people and things.  However, I try not to think about the past because doing so keeps one from moving forward.

Like the voice in this poem, I’ve been much of an ass in my life.  But, just being a jerk and saying and doing stupid things, I don’t believe should land me in ever-lasting hell after I’ve finished here.  At least I hope not.  I’ve suffered from my sins as I’ve lived.  Being filled with regret is punishment enough, from my point of view, but maybe not from God’s.

A Reckoning by Richard Wilbur 

At my age, one begins
To chalk up all his sins,
Hoping to wipe the slate
Before it is too late.

Therefore I call to mind
All memories of the kind
That make one wince and sweat
And tremble with regret.

What do these prove to be?
In every one, I see
Shocked faces that, alas,
Now know me for an ass.

Fatuities that I
Have uttered, drunk or dry,
Return now in a rush
And make my old cheek blush.
But how can I repent
From mere embarrassment?
Damn-foolishness can’t well
Entitle me to Hell.

Well, I shall put the blame
On the pride that’s in my shame.
Of that I must be shriven
If I’m to be forgiven

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